By Matthew Rothschild on July 19, 2010

I got an e-mail from a group called 21st Century Democrats, bemoaning the fact that a recent poll shows that 55% of likely voters said that the word “socialist” describes Obama and his policies.

The 21st Century Democrats said, “You and I know [that] is not the case.”

I only wish it were!

I wish Obama had pressed for single-payer national health care.

I wish Obama had nationalized Citicorp and Bank of America, rather than bail them out.

I wish he would have favored breaking up the rest of the big banks so they couldn’t destroy our economy.

I wish he would have forced any banks taking federal bailout money to freeze foreclosures for at least a year and freeze interest rates on mortgages and credit cards.

I wish Obama would have proposed redistributing income from the wealthy to those who really need it by raising the marginal income tax, and the capital gains tax, and the estate tax.

I wish Obama would have proposed a transaction tax on every stock sale so as to curb speculation.

I wish Obama would have proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, as Ralph Nader has proposed.

I wish Obama would have replaced Ben Bernanke at the Fed with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

I wish Obama would have come out for democratizing the Fed, as Dennis Kucinich has recommended.

I wish Obama would have proposed a public works program to put every American who needs a job to work.

I wish Obama would have ordered every federal building to be installed with a solar panel, and almost every car in the federal fleet to be a hybrid or electric car.

I wish Obama would have proposed opening federal grocery stores in areas that are food deserts.

I wish Obama would have addressed the cruel problem of poverty in America.

I wish Obama would have proposed 12 months of paid maternity and paternity leave, mandatory paid sick leave, and federal child care.

I wish Obama would have advocated the nationalization of the armament companies, as Sen. Robert La Follette did back in 1924.

I wish Obama would have promoted ideas of worker participation in management, as it prevails in Germany, for instance.

No decent socialist would have implemented policies that have left unemployment at over 9 percent and foreclosures at record heights.

No decent socialist would have let the banks get off so easily.

No decent socialist would have been caught dead praising the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and justifying their obscene salaries the way Obama did. (“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”)

No decent socialist would have left the health insurance industries in the driver’s seat.

No decent socialist would have empowered a panel to advocate the cutting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

No decent socialist would have expanded the war in Afghanistan, a hopeless war being fought by the sons and daughters of America’s working class.

So, no, Obama isn’t a socialist. Not even close.

But we’d be a lot better off in this country if he were.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “National Review Applauds Poverty, Blames Debt on Progressivism.”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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